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blogs / 16 AUG 2021

Global Household Goods Shipments: What You Need to Know

Helen Gruschow

ship household goods internationally

At the start of the pandemic, global shipments inevitably either slowed down or stopped completely. As demand has continued to build over the last 12 months, this situation has only worsened with time, impacting international assignments and organizations’ mobility programs. Here, we discuss the specific household goods challenges around the world, as well as key recommendations that organizations can follow to help reduce the impact shipment delays have on mobility programs.

In some cases, weekly shipping routes have been reduced to twice-weekly or even monthly

Current Challenges

Many shipping companies have reduced the number of departures out of ports. In some instances, weekly routes have been reduced to twice-weekly or even monthly, dependent on demand. Productivity at the ports themselves has also decreased as the number of dockworkers has been reduced to adhere to social distancing restrictions. At Cartus, we have seen significant delays across U.S. West Coast ports with multiple container vessels unable to offload and, in some cases, wait times for port entry for unloading have been up to 20 days.

APAC is another region where we are seeing especially long delays. The rise in online shopping by global consumers (and the fact many items purchased online originate from Asia) may have contributed to these regional delays. APAC shipments are also being hindered by a significant imbalance between a surplus of empty containers located in Western regions, without the need to return them to ports in APAC who desperately need them. To relieve the imbalance, some shipping companies have begun to create “blank sailings,” which means one in every four containers sent is empty.

Increased Cost

The reduction of shipments and imbalance of containers has caused freight rates to rise, especially in APAC. The increased cost in sea freight rates has meant rising demand for air transport, thus elevating air rates, too. More recently, EMEA has begun to experience a shortage in trucks collecting shipments from ports, which in turn has led to an increase in trucking rates within the region.

Global Household Goods Shipments Secondary Image

Cartus Recommendations

  • Preparedness remains key. If your organization has scheduled moves that include household goods shipments, then let your relocation services provider know as early as possible. This will help to ensure any possible delays are built into your mobility schedule.

  • Where possible, organizations should try to ensure their relocation program has the flexibility to adapt to the challenges (e.g., flexible start/end dates). This will help to mitigate the significant delays being experienced within global household goods. For example, it is currently taking between four and six weeks to book a sea freight.

  • Set expectations with employees. International assignees will experience longer-than-expected wait times for their household goods to arrive and they should be told of this before the move.

  • Ensure your relocation budget reflects potential additional costs. In addition to the increased freight and air rates there may be a rise in storage costs due to wait times for containers, and employees who have to wait a particularly long time to receive goods may prefer to remain in temporary accommodation for a longer period. Alternatively, furniture rental options (where available) can be considered as an interim arrangement.

Find Out More

Download our Mobility Supply Chain Guide to find out the specific challenges impacting the wider industry, what Cartus is doing to mitigate them, and key recommendations to help companies reduce the impact these challenges have on their relocation programs. Our guide looks specifically at:

  • Destination Services

  • Immigration

  • Temporary Housing

  • Rental Assistance

  • U.S. Household Goods

  • Global Household Goods

Look out for more blogs over the coming weeks, which will deep-dive into specific areas of supply chain and the innovative solutions we are providing to help clients navigate the current challenges. Read our previous posts:

Cartus will continue to work closely with our supplier partners to ensure we minimize the impact this situation may have on our clients and their relocating employees.

Headshot of Blog Author Helen Gruschow

Helen Gruschow

Helen Gruschow is responsible for managing the Cartus International Moving Services Network in addition to the International Household Goods Quality Control team. During her 15 years with Cartus, Helen also has worked in Real Estate Services, Government and Property Management.